Gov. Greg Abbott is waiving student readiness testing requirements for school districts across the state as districts figure out how to respond to the coronavirus threat.
Districts will no longer be required to conduct State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing for the 2019-20 school year. The first round of testing was scheduled to begin next month. Districts statewide are either closing their campuses and shifting to online distance learning, or considering doing so, in response to COVID-19.
"Your health and safety are top priorities, and the state of Texas will give school districts flexibility to protect and ensure of students, faculty and their families," Abbott said in a news release. "We will empower schools to make the best decisions to protect their communities from COVID-19."
In a statement, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath praised the move. During normal times, the test "serves as an invaluable tool to accurately and reliably diagnose how well students have learned to read, write and do math," Morath said.
"This year, though, it has become apparent that schools will be unable to administer STAAR as they would normally. TEA has already waived a host of regulations, allowing schools to quickly pivot and provide instruction and support in ways they never have before. We are thankful for Gov. Abbott's willingness to waive the STAAR testing requirement, as it allows schools the maximum flexibility to remain focused on public health while also investing in the capacity to support student learning remotely."
As the disease began to gain a foothold in parts of Texas last week, school officials across the state scrambled to respond. On Thursday, Dallas ISD officials announced they were canceling all extracurricular events and activities. The district is holding its spring break this week. During that time, workers are spraying antiviral disinfectant in every building in the district.
District officials expect to make an announcement on Thursday about whether school closures will be necessary.